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Toni Morrison wins Nobel Prize for literature

STOCKHOLM -- Toni Morrison, an American novelist whose popular books about black family life have already earned her a Pulitzer Prize, Thursday was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Among the best known of Morrison's novels are 'Tar Baby,' 'Song of Solomon' and 'Beloved,' an account of the lives of emancipated blacks in post-Civil War Ohio and Kentucky, which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

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Morrison was notified of the award at her home in Princeton, New Jersey, where she is on the faculty at Princeton University.

'I am unendurably happy. I heard the news early this morning from a colleague at Princeton and I am, of course, profoundly honored,' Morrison said.

'The most meaningful thing to me personally is that at last the prize has been awarded to an African-American. I thank God my mother is alive to see this day.'

The prize, announced in Stockholm, carries with it an honorarium of nearly $1 million.

The 62-year-old Morrison, who is the eighth woman to win the award, has been hailed as a writer of universally appealing stories of black family life. Her novels have been translated into 14 languages.

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Born Chloe Anthony Wofford on Feb. 18, 1931, in the Ohio steel town of Lorain, west of Cleveland, Morrison graduated from Howard University in 1953 and received a master's degree in English from Cornell University in 1955.

She taught English and the humanities at Texas Southern University in Houston for two years, moving in 1957 to Howard Univerity in Washington, D.C., where she remained until 1964.

Since then she has held various teaching posts at Yale University, Bard College and Rutgers University.

In 1989, she was appointed Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of he Humanities at Princeton University. She teaches creative writing at the Ivy League university.

'Song of Solomon' was the first novel by a black author to be chosen as a main selection of the Book of the Month Club since Richard Wright's 'Native Son' earned that distinction in 1940.

And when 'Tar Baby' put her on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1981, Morrison said, 'The day you put a middle-aged, gray-haired colored lady on the magazine...the revolution is over.'

Morrison has said she does not mind being described as a black writer or black woman writer.

'I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither,' she said. 'So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a 'black female' writer. It just got bigger.'

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Morrison has also authored a book of essays titled 'Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power,' about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, the law professor who accused Thomas of sexually harassing her.

Morrison currently serves as co-chair of the Schomburg Commission for the Preservation of Black Culture and is a member of the Africa Watch and Helsinki Watch Committees of Human Rights Watch.

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